Celebrating 80 years of Lady Gowrie Qld
2020 marks eighty years since the opening of the original Lady Gowrie Queensland Child Centre in Love Street, Bowen Hills. On the 17th of June, 1940, what was then known as the Australian Commonwealth Government’s Brisbane Demonstration Centre for Children’s Programs opened its doors to seventeen children.
Over the next few years, following lobbying by Lady Gowrie to improve the health and wellbeing of Australian children, particularly those who were disadvantaged, more centres were established in capital cities around Australia to demonstrate exemplary benchmarks of quality in early childhood practice. Lady Gowrie was a keen advocate for social justice and the right to quality care and education for all children.
To mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of Lady Gowrie in Queensland, the then Governor of Queensland, the Honourable Ms Penelope Wensley, AC, hosted a morning tea at Government House. During this time she described Lady Gowrie Qld by saying, “the organisation has consistently set and attained the highest standards in its range of programs for young children and their parents and guardians. Partly, no doubt, this is a legacy of its origin in 1940 as a demonstration centre for children’s programs, but I know that it takes enormous commitment, energy, and professionalism to maintain those standards consistently over a long period, particularly in the context of an expanding client base, an expanding range of services, and constant advances in our knowledge of the early education needs of children”.
She went on to say that, “Just about every notable writer, poet, philosopher and public figure, from Plato to Groucho Marx, has had something to say about children. Some of their thoughts and profound, some very wise, some very practical, and some amusing. A few manage to be all four. As a parent, my favourites are those in which you can, as it were, hear the affectionate smile through wry reflections of real-life experience with children…one of the best, and possibly the most relevant……came from Groucho Marx when he said, “A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five!” Those two sentences repay considerable reflection and, whatever their comedic intent, we can take them as acknowledging the perspicacity and intelligence of young children – sometimes underestimated – and the sometimes invidious comparison with the cluttered thought processes of adults”.
“Recently…I tried to capture both what young children mean for our future and, just as critically, why they are unique and so precious as children, here and now. I said that the wellbeing of our children today will determine the wellbeing of our communities tomorrow,”
“Children delight us, challenge us, tire us out, melt our hearts, make us laugh and cry, give us fresh perspectives on life and make us proud – often all in the space of less than an hour. To express that in another way, and to capture, perhaps, more of the ethos of The Gowrie Qld, whenever adults interact with young children, it is not only the children who learn and develop”.
Perhaps then, that Lady Zara Gowrie’s true legacy is reflected in the passionate, committed educators across the country who continue her work in Lady Gowrie centres to honour childhood as a unique time of life, and to provide rich, stimulating, supportive early learning environments for children and their families.